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October 11, 2013 — A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.
By Cindy Unger, WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz business adviser
“I own a small landscaping company and would like to eliminate some of my invoicing chores by using mobile credit card processing on site. What do you know about these services?” John, Cody
Credit card acceptance is a necessity for all businesses today, from doctors to convenience store operators.
Mobile credit card processing allows a business to accept credit and debit card payments using a smartphone. For mobile businesses or many home businesses, the ability to accept credit cards through a mobile phone saves time and makes money. Not only is this an efficient way for your business to get paid, but it also saves your customers the time, money and effort involved in paying your invoice at the end of the month.
Examples of the types of businesses for which mobile credit card processing is an asset include hair stylists, landscapers, house and carpet cleaners, mobile food trucks, outside sales representatives, farmers market merchants and many more.
Merchant service companies can now convert smartphones and tablets into mobile credit card acceptance portals with little effort or additional investment. This innovation has resulted in decreased exposure to credit card fraud, charge backs and the added costs of “keyed” transaction fees.
After deciding what processor to use, complete a merchant application. Upon acceptance of the application, the business owner will download the mobile app and secure log-in credentials allocated for the business depository bank account. A card reader will plug into the audio jack of a mobile device to swipe customer cards, which will populate the mobile app with the cardholder information.
All the business owner has to do is swipe the customer’s card right on the smartphone, have the customer sign on the touchscreen, and then email the customer a copy of the receipt. Your cell phone, accompanied by a mobile credit card processing service, will provide real-time validation and payment processing, low rates, online account management and the ability to email or text receipts back to the customer.
Business owners should carefully examine the fee structure of the processor. Typically, you will be charged a set-up fee to start, monthly service fees and transaction fees every time you process a credit card. Transactions fees typically are the base rate and the processing rate. Note that one service may have a low per-transaction fee, but the authorization rate may be high.
Most apps will work with any popular mobile phone. Every major service uses SSL encryption to ensure that sensitive information is secure. Individual apps are typically password protected and include additional safety measures in the event of theft or loss of the device. Credit card information is never actually stored on the phone.
These payments are typically safer than other methods of credit card acceptance because the card never leaves the customer’s sight, and there are no imprinted receipts containing customer credit card information.
For reviews of mobile credit card processors, go to http://credit-card-processing-review.toptenreviews.com/mobile-credit-card-processing/.
A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments is available at http://www.wyomingentrepreneur.typepad.com/blog/.
The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email firstname.lastname@example.org or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.